Timeform UK SmartPlays
Paddy Brennan rides Clever Dick
Timeform's SmartPlays team bring you the best daily tips on UK horse racing (February 21).
Mark Johnston has already saddled nine winners so far this month and with short-priced favourite Cotton Trader vulnerable to any improvers in the mile-and-three-furlong maiden at Southwell, his Authentication (14:50) can strike at the second time of asking. Granted the selection was three places and 12 lengths behind Cotton Trader in a ten-furlong maiden at Wolverhampton last month when making his debut but, with a pedigree (sire won Epsom Derby, dam winner of Italian Oaks) that suggest the extra furlong and a more taxing surface will suit, he has definite claims of getting much nearer to the favourite this time. At the prices, it is worth chancing Authentication can improve past him.
It's fair to assume that David Pipe would like to land a race at Taunton this afternoon as the card is heavy with the name of his yard sponsor, and he can do just that with Clever Dick in the handicap hurdle run due off at 16:15. Timeform top-rated Clever Dick has shown his best form over hurdles in handicaps on his last two starts, shaping best at the weights when second at Huntingdon and running creditably despite seeming not to cope with extreme conditions when fifth at Fontwell, and he's expected to gain his first victory returned to better ground today. Though stable jockey Tom Scudamore travels to Wetherby to partner two from the yard, the booking of Paddy Brennan (who admittedly rides a lot for the owner) catches the eye as he has partnered two winners from eight rides for Pipe during the last five seasons.
For our last selection we rely on a horse that is developing into somewhat of a fibresand specialist, namely d'Urberville (17:10), who goes in the closing mile handicap at Southwell. Five-year-old d'Urberville seemingly wasn't right when failing to build on a promising reappearance nearly three weeks ago but it's worth stating he had missed the whole of 2011 prior to that January return and it may just have been that he succumbed to the dreaded 'bounce' factor. D'Urberville is forgiven that latest effort and can improve upon a course record that reads two wins and three places from seven starts.
Back Authentication @ [4.6] in the 14:50 at Southwell
Back Clever Dick @ [2.92] in the 16:15 at Taunton
Back d'Urberville @ [4.6] in the 17:10 at Southwell
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